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justice in Queensland « Previous | |Next »
December 12, 2007

I've just returned from my brief holiday in Wilsons Promontory to find that the comments function has been closed by my hosting company because of heavy comment spam. They are being battered and so I will have to upgrade the MT publishing system this week.

Whilst away I was stunned to read that nine males who gang-raped a 10-year-old girl in the Cape York Indigenous community of Aurukun escaped without serving jail time. Crown prosecutor Steve Carter did not seek jail terms for the offenders, and in his sentencing submission to the judge he said the 10-year-old victim knew what was going on. He said in court that:

They're very naughty for doing what they're doing but it's really, in this case, it was a form of childish experimentation rather than one child being prevailed upon by another. Although as I said, although she was very young, she knew what was going on, and she had agreed to meet the children at this particular place and it was all by arrangement.

Rape is experimentation? Really? Childish experimentation on a skinny 10-year-old by males aged 25? Since when have a 26-year-old, 18-year-old, 17-year old and six other teenagers been considered a group of children? What kind of legal world is this?

Bill Leak

Carter made his comments in his sentencing submission to Cairns District Court Judge Sarah Bradley in October. He recommended the six offenders aged under 17 receive supervision orders involving education or counselling and suggested the three older men (over 25) receive suspended sentences or parole. So what has happened to Aboriginal women and girls having formal equality and protection through the criminal justice system.

Judge Bradley could have used her discretion and sentenced the men and teenagers to jail terms, she eventually accepted the Crown prosecutor's recommendations. Instead she allowed nine males who pleaded guilty to gang-raping a 10-year-old girl at the Aurukun Aboriginal community on Cape York to escape jail terms, saying the child victim "was not forced and probably agreed" to sex.

The conduct of Cairns-based District Court judge Sarah Bradley is provocative. A 10-year-old can't consent to sex: the law is unequivocal, and the broader community expects courts to protect children from predators. What we have with this suspension of the state's laws when dealing with Aboriginal offenders is a continuation of a situation in which the rape of a little black girl becomes less of a crime than the rape of a white one.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:26 AM |